Kathy Nolan is a Corporate Attorney for Shoobx Inc. She gave a talk on teams composed of different specialties and training and how these teams can collaborate effectively, at our March networking event hosted by Toast.
Kathy works with the founders of hundreds of early stage startups and helps them use Shoobx to create incorporation, founder shares, financing, stock incentive plan, board consents, IP and HR documents, just to name a few. She also coaches startups on issues relating to Shoobx and due diligence management, working with counsel, 409a valuations, and employee option grants. Kathy is also a Corporate Attorney for Shoobx, and she was a legal fellow at the Boulder Trial Court and the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. Kathy is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School. She is on the Advisory Board of The Capital Network, a nonprofit that provides practical, hands-on education and personalized mentoring for founders as they navigate the fundraising process.
How (and when) did you get into your current field or company?
I used to do the things my current software company does, but for free and with a very old Microsoft word document in law school. Then I realized how inefficient that was and started looking for better, more automated solutions that didn’t involve me pulling out a word document contract and manually typing in the latest person’s name and today’s date and emailing it out for people to sign. If you’ve ever started companies the old fashioned way, you truly appreciate Shoobx and the modern way of doing things so much more.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I get lots of communications from founders. Everything from, “My 409(a) is expired, now what?” to “how do I put a benefits clause in the offer letter”, to “how do I change my officers”, to “how can I fire my co-founder?”
I get lots of communications from lawyers and investors using Shoobx, too. They have a different set of concerns. They’ve done it all before and they’re more interested in making sure everything the company does is communicated efficiently and logged correctly in the records. For example, they know the process for granting shares cold and they don’t have any questions, but they do want to make sure the cap table is updated for everyone to see the change, the stock ledger is updated, the data room is updated and ready for a due diligence, etc.
I also connect people to each other. Startups need lawyers to advise them, part time CFOs to manage the books, payroll providers, etc, and I’ve seen enough to know the good ones and the bad ones.
What is the favorite part of your day?
I enjoy that so many of the issues that come up are very immediate. Imagine the CEO of a company asking questions about how to grant shares or a board member signing the board consent, or shareholder signing a board consent, or lawyer doing due diligence. When they have questions, they have complex questions that need to be answered right now. There’s never a dull moment. The urgency makes it a lot more fun.
What excites you about working in your industry?
The startup industry has a lot of interesting players- the advisors on the outside, the lawyers, the investors, the shareholders, the employees, the CEOs making something out of nothing. It is exciting to work with all of these actors, each with their own unique perspective.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
What is your favorite part of being a woman in STEM?
It’s funny because I was in the legal field before, and no one ever asks what it’s like, or how do I feel about being a woman in the legal field. I’m hoping the STEM fields will be like that soon.
What other women inspire you?
I’m really inspired by my sister- she’s graduating soon and deciding what field she’ll go into. And I secretly hope she’ll pick software! My colleagues are really the best and I hope she finds a place where she enjoys her colleagues half as much. I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring for her.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I love rabbits. I grew up with them, and I’m currently fostering a very sweet bunny from the ARL of Boston right now.
What do you geek out about?
In the end the company comes down to ownership. Who owns the shares and who controls the board? These are the people that control the company’s future and will decide which way to go when there’s a fork in the road. Too many people lose sight of this and rely on their status as an original founder. If you’ve been diluted, the term “founder” doesn’t mean anything. You’ve lost control, and you’re at the mercy of those who do have control- the board and the majority of the shareholders. Understanding the inner workings of the cap table and who owns what is critical for anyone trying to lead a company, and I enjoy talking it over with founders.